Daniel Lubetzky: Peace through Business

There is more to our favourite snack bar than we realised!  Kind bars are an offshoot of founder Daniel Lubetzky’s PeaceWorks, which pursues both profit and peace.  Kind Healthy Snacks also devotes a great deal of resources to crowd-sourced charitable campaigns and other pro-social efforts.  Lubetzky designates this business model as “not-only-for-profit.”

Be Kind

Daniel Lubetzky

Source: PeaceWorks

Since launching in 2004, Kind has grown into a 120 million dollar business (based on 2012 revenues), making snack bars from “ingredients you can see and pronounce.”  What was once a niche product sold at high-end stores such as Whole Foods has become an increasingly broad-­appeal alternative to less-healthy snacks, available at places such as Target and Walmart.

“We try to think with and rather than or,” says Lubetzky.  “It doesn’t have to be healthy or tasty. It can be healthy and tasty. It can be wholesome and convenient.”  According to Lubetzky, internal surveys suggest that 90% of the company’s customers choose the bars because of their flavour, while 70% care about the health attributes.  Just 30% cite the company’s social mission, which allows Kind fans to vote on which charity will receive its monthly $10,000 donation.  “You can have a product made by Mother Teresa, but people won’t buy it again if it isn’t the best,” he says.

Be at Peace

In college, Lubetzky wrote a thesis on how business might help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Some of those ideas eventually made their way to his first food-related enterprise, PeaceWorks, which uses economic means to help ease global conflicts.  Its Meditalia tapenades and pesto, for example, are made by Israelis and Arabs working together in Israel.

Since its beginnings in 1994, PeaceWorks has pursued both profit and peace.  The profit comes through sales of healthy food products that are produced by neighbours on opposing sides of political or armed conflicts, via co-operative business ventures facilitated by PeaceWorks.  A minimum of 5% of its profits are used to support the PeaceWorks Foundation and the OneVoice Movement, which aims to amplify the voice of moderate Israelis and Palestinians and to help them build a human infrastructure and the political environment necessary to move political representatives towards a two-state solution.

(This post draws on an article in Fast Company magazine)

My Thoughts

We usually see the social enterprise being an offshoot of a successful business – a business owner wanting to use his success for good.  So I was fascinated to find out that Kind Healthy Snacks is actually a spin-off from the social enterprise, PeaceWorks.  But PeaceWorks isn’t a normal social venture.  It’s significant to me that Lubetzky put profit right up front.  If the business doesn’t make a profit, it won’t do much to bring about peace.

For a couple of years I’ve been fascinated by the thought that an economic boom may lead to peace between Israel and Palestine.  Israel has recently discovered huge reserves of natural gas, and a recent technology breakthrough raises the possibility of being able to convert this natural gas into ethylene and its derived products (petrol / gasoline, plastics etc.) at half the cost of doing so from oil.

Is that a game changer?  Would the Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully together if they were too busy making money to fight?

And can business really bring about peace?

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One comment

  1. Paul Bendor-samuel · · Reply

    Thanks Craig. Enlightening and exciting.

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